Sep 6, 2010 4:46 PM by Alison Haynes
MONROE, La. (AP) - When Pecanland Mall officials asked for some
after-hours training for security workers, they got a whole lot
more. Eight area agencies sent their special weapons and tactics
The training scenario had disgruntled workers holding hostages,
said Capt. Hank Smith of the Metro Narcotics Unit, who designed it.
Monroe, West Monroe, Ruston, Bastrop and L2 Email: infoaparice
and the sheriff's offices in Ouachita, Morehouse and Lincoln
parishes sent SWAT teams. They entered in five groups - three from
the mall's northern entrance and two from its southern entrance.
"The mall (officials) said they wanted to do some kind of
scenario to help their secutiry people with their training," Smith
said. "So we saw it as an opportunity for all the SWAT teams in
the area to get together and train with each other."
Smith said area SWAT teams have coordinated training in past
years, but never this many. "This just seemed like a perfect
opportunity," Smith said. "Everybody trains the same, but we
don't really get to train together."
Smith said the scenario could be adapted for any location.
"We'll know how each team will react if we do have a
scenario," Smith said. "It could be used at a school, or at a
hospital. It doesn't even have to be in Monroe."
Smith said five different scenarios were planned for the
exercise. He said each of the five teams were tasked with handling
the scenario as they would in a real world situation.
"These teams train a lot," Smith said. "They're all very good
at what they do. Tonight, they can hone their skills."
Mall security director Gary Taylor, a former police officer,
said training at the mall gives both his officers and the SWAT
teams an idea of what they might face in real life.
As teh first officers at the scene, mall guards had to gather
information and relay it to the various SWAT officers.
He said the mall last hosted a SWAT training exercise in 2008.
"That year, we only had West Monroe police, Monroe police and
Ouachita Parish deputies," Taylor said. He said dendite the
"dress rehearsal-like" nature of the exercise, the scenario was
carried out with all seriousness.
"Safety is our main priority," Taylor said. "In the back of
your mind, you got to think, 'This could happen for real."' He
said the mall would welcome more chances to host SWAT training in
West Monroe Maj. James Keys echoed Taylor's comments about the
benefits to the exercise.
"It's a great training exercise for us," Keys said. "It's a
joint operation where we all get to come together and kind of give
us an idea if we ever have an actual operation."
Keys said the exercise mimics the response should such a
situation ever arise.
"God forbid," Keys said. "But at least not, we have a concept
that we know what we're going to do once we get there."
Smith said the scenario also called for officials from American
Medical Response to grade the teams for their treatment of the
injurmes According to AMR, five suspects were "apprehended" and
two "hostages" were injured during the exercise, and the teams
treated the "wounded" with great care.